Gianluigi Buffon thinks it's strange to play Spain without Iker Casillas

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When you ask a football fan to name some legendary goalkeepers, you won’t have to wait too long before you hear the names, Gianluigi Buffon and Iker Casillas.

The pair have been playing at the top level of European football for more than a decade and have earned 330 caps between them for Italy and Spain respectively.

However, while it’s 163 caps and counting for Buffon, it appears to be 167 and out for Casillas.

That’s because the 35-year-old has been left out of Spain’s squad for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Italy and Albania this week.

Casillas lost his place as Spain’s first-choice stopper to Manchester United’s David de Gea ahead of Euro 2016 but new manager Julen Lopetegui doesn’t think he deserves a place in the squad at all.

So, rather than Buffon and Casillas clashing when the two nations meet in Turin on Thursday, there will only be one legendary ‘keeper on show - something that the Juventus captain finds odd.

"It does seem strange," he told a news conference when asked about Casillas' omission.

But Buffon realises the pair are no longer the two best goalkeepers in the world and acknowledges that they are reaching the end of their career - not that he has any plans to retire.

"It's a sign that we're reaching our sell-by date,” he admitted.

"We're reaching the end of our careers, which is normal. I'm going to enjoy taking part in it as long as I can. I don't want any regrets and I feel I can still improve."

Buffon will be 40 by the time the World Cup in Russia begins and he hopes to make an incredible sixth appearance in the competition.

To qualify, though, they must find their way past a quality Spanish side - something they managed to do this summer.

In the last-16 clash in France, the Italians beat much-fancied Spain 2-0 but Buffon wants his players to forget that win ahead of their qualifier this week.

"I don't have a clear memory of the Euro 2016 meeting - I don't have the mental clarity yet to look at it without the adrenaline," he said.

"We played in a lively way, as a team who wanted to get the result at all costs. We have to do the same tomorrow. That type of passion and desire is essential.

"That victory must not make us feel arrogant - we need to keep our feet on the ground and remember the humility that helped us win then.

"We are a year and a half off the World Cup, but we have to realise what this game is worth now."

Zinedine Zidane
Gianluigi Buffon
Real Madrid
Cristiano Ronaldo
Iker Casillas
Spain Football
Italy Football

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